Jacob deGrom
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

The Mets can only wallow in their misery for so long.

Yes, they are just a week removed from their sudden postseason exit. But now they must shift their focus to 2023. That starts with their own free agents, a group that includes two superstars and several critical role players. Before owner Steve Cohen and the front office can add talent for another pennant push, they need to retain what they have — if possible.

The Mets likely can’t bring everyone back. So they have to prioritize. Here’s how we would rank the team’s top-5 free agents:

1-Edwin Díaz. The life cycle of a MLB closer is unpredictable from year to year. But the odds point in Diaz’s favor for replicating the success he had this year. In his age-28 season, Díaz posted a 297 ERA+, nearly 90 points better than his historic 2018 season in Seattle. The one true constant in the Mets bullpen this season, Díaz’s entrance into ball games – especially when the Mets held the lead – all but guaranteed a victory for New York. His role became especially important as the rest of the bullpen went through rough patches, leading the Mets to sometimes rely on their closer to record four or more out saves; the coaching staff trusted him that much over other arms in the bullpen. Bringing back Díaz and locking up a lock-down closer is a must if the Mets want to win another 100+ games; this should be the team’s top priority this winter.

2-Jacob deGrom. As good as deGrom has been as a New York Met, the truth must be said: he’s a pitcher entering his age-35 season and will demand record-breaking money for a starting pitcher of his age. He deserves every bit of that money considering what he’s done as a starting pitcher since 2014. That being said, that hefty price tag might steer the Mets away toward building a revamped rotation for a lesser price tag. Skeptics of this train of thought might point to Cohen’s deep pockets, but even for an ownership like Cohen, money is still finite at a certain point. DeGrom deserves a blank check, but if his price demand skyrockets, that check may be better off signed by another organization. His 3.08 ERA is elite for most pitchers, but it’s a noticeable drop for deGrom; missing over a year of major league games must be factored in as well. Obviously the Mets will look to bring back their ace, but it shouldn’t be their top, top priority this free agency.

3-Brandon Nimmo. This may not have been the obvious best statistical year of Nimmo’s career, but there’s an argument that it was the most impactful year he had on the Mets. From timely base hits to grinding out at bats and playing a fantastic center field, Nimmo did it all this season. He sets the table as a leadoff hitter, brings energy that fires up the rest of the lineup, and continues to improve as a natural hitter. Nimmo specifically expanded his game this year in the run scoring and run driving in department. Bringing back Nimmo on a long-term deal would keep the homegrown kid in town as a Met for years to come.

4-Chris Bassitt. Bassitt ate innings and was very good in the process this year. Fans with recent-memory bias might look at Bassitt as the pitcher who couldn’t get it done in Game 3 of the wild card series, but he really was one of the Mets best starters from start to finish this season. He was the only Met pitcher to reach 30 starts in 2022, and his consistency is something this year’s Mets didn’t have much of otherwise. With one year in New York under his belt, another season in Queens could see Bassitt grow back closer to the Cy Young-caliber pitcher he was in Oakland.

5-Trevor Williams. William’s inclusion on this list comes from his flexibility on the roster. He excelled as both a starter and reliever, and put together a number of incredibly appearances for the Mets in 2022 called upon at a moment’s notice. To say the Mets would bring back Williams as a spot starter again is not an accurate representation of his role on this team. As Mets fans especially know, injuries can shake up a pitching staff at any given time, and having Williams on the roster serves as a major insurance in those circumstances. If Williams is open to working in his hybrid role again, he’d be an ideal pitcher to bring back for the back half of the rotation and as a chess piece in the bullpen.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny